Career Profiles

David Mendoza ‘17

Extern, Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers
(Beijing, China)

David Mendoza ‘17

Where did you work last summer?
I worked for Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers in Beijing, China.

What was the focus of your summer externship?
I conducted a lot of research. My topic was a comparative analysis on anti-bullying legislation between China and the United States. There is not a lot of Chinese law on the subject. I found that Chinese law provided for two real options: parents and educators could send students to work study schools or outright discipline students based on was deemed appropriate by parents and teachers. On the other hand, the U.S. delegates regulation to the states and the states have given a lot of discretion to the school districts and even the criminal system where bullying, especially cyber-bullying, crossed over into the physical realm.

In addition to providing my research memo to my supervising attorney, I also prepared a summary and abstract and presented it at a research forum. About 20-30 people were present at the forum including Chinese law students, summer interns, and professors from the U.S., China, and Australia. I presented as part of a panel of interns concerning juvenile justice issues and took questions.

What excited you most about your job?
What excited me most was how much I learned reading things on my own and that there was so much overlap with other areas of law. Each day I was researching state laws, locating secondary sources, reading law review articles, and parsing through institutional research. I learned a great deal.

How did you learn about this externship?
I learned of the program through Professor Mertus who was friends with the head of the internship program in China. She connected me with the firm.

How did your education and experience at Whittier Law prepare you for this externship?
The research log and research path assignments in Lawyering Skills were really helpful. As I mentioned, I was reviewing so many sources so referring back to the cites in my log would allow me to see an overlap with another area or issue I read in previous research.

What advice would you give to fellow students seeking employment in this field?
Be assertive with your supervisor. If you’re not sure about a particular assignment or whether you’re on the right track, ask for clarification. I observed that some interns needed more direction, and I was able to help them because I was willing to ask the questions. I was also able to assert my interests with my supervisor which allowed me to shape my research project around those interests.